David Letterman asked NBC newsman Brian Williams to comment on the turmoil at NBC’s “Today” and “Tonight” shows, but Williams didn’t blink.
The “NBC Nightly News” anchor did comment on another story, though — that he was on the list of candidates under consideration to replace Alex Trebek, 72, as host of “Jeopardy” when Trebek retires, reportedly in 2016.
In the “conversation” Letterman had with Williams about “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” Letterman attempted to link the ongoing “Today” show tumult with the news that NBC is preparing to replace Jay Leno with Jimmy Fallon next year.
“A few months ago there was some trouble at NBC on the vaunted good morning show … What do they call it? ‘The Today Show’,” Dave said to Williams Tuesday night when the NBC anchor appeared on Letterman’s “Late Show” on CBS.
“And then one thing led to another and there was trouble and suddenly Matt Lauer, who everybody loved — trouble, something to do with Ann Curry.”
Letterman was referring to the tumult late last spring when Curry was replaced on “Today” by Savannah Guthrie and the show’s audience formed the impression, aided by various news reports and gossip items, that Lauer was instrumental in driving Curry off the show (something he has denied in recent interviews). The “Today” show has been in second place behind ABC’s “Good Morning America” for about a year.
“It was crazy,” Letterman said. “So NBC says, ‘We gotta put an end to this’ because it’s ‘The Today Show,’ so now they come up with these crazy stories about the other end of their programming day, ‘The Tonight Show,’ so now all of that conversation comes up to get people’s mind off the Matt Lauer stuff.”
After this very long speech introducing the subject, Letterman then said to Williams: “Now, if I’m on to something, blink twice!” And Williams didn’t blink.
The two also discussed the recent reports that had Williams on a list of possible candidates to replace Trebek, along with Anderson Cooper, Lauer and sportscaster Dan Patrick. Williams confirmed that he had been contacted by the venerable quiz show — a “feeler” — to see if he might be interested in the job. Williams indicated to Letterman that it’s not something he would ever be interested in doing.